- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan A top American diplomat yesterday challenged India to match Pakistan's pledge not to start a war, but shelling persisted across the frontier in the disputed Kashmir region, and at least 14 persons were killed in fighting.

"President Musharraf has made it very clear that he is searching for peace, that he won't be the one to initiate war," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told reporters after a nearly two-hour meeting with the Pakistani leader.

Mr. Armitage said he would be looking for "the same type of assurance" when he travels today to New Delhi for talks with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

At the State Department, spokesman Richard Boucher joined Mr. Armitage in calling for India to promise not to provoke war.

"We look to India to take reciprocal steps," Mr. Boucher said. "So we think it's important for both sides to look at how to do that, how to de-escalate the tensions, how to ease off the confrontation."

Mr. Armitage also said Gen. Musharraf "expressed his absolute determination" to continue lending support for the U.S. military effort against al Qaeda terrorists. Last week Pakistani authorities moved some troops from the Afghan border as the Kashmir crisis deepened.

Many al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are believed to be hiding along both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The threat of a third war over Kashmir flared after an attack on the Indian Parliament in December that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

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